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Howard R. Davies on an AJS motorcycle, c. 1920s

Howard R. Davies on an AJS motorcycle, c. 1920s

Howard Raymond Davies was born on 27 June 1895, at 351 Ladypool Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, to parents Bertha and Frank (a carriers clerk). They moved to Wolverhampton where Howard attended Wolverhampton Municipal Grammar School in Newhampton Road. In 1911, he was living with his parents, Frank and Bertha, brother Frank Conrad, and sister Norah Gwendoline, at 39 Tettenhall Road, Wolverhampton.

His interests were swimming, music and horses. He left school and obtained an apprenticeship with A. J. Stevens (A.J.S.), but was more interested in racing than motorbike mechanics, and later joined Clyno to get on to the Subeam racing team. After coming back from the Scottish six day trial as a member of the Sunbeam team, he was sacked for unauthorised extended absence. He managed to get back into Sunbeam, and finished in second place at the Isle of Man Senior T.T. races in 1914.

When war broke out, Howard joined the Royal Engineers as a despatch rider in France. He then trained as a pilot, and his flying certificate was taken on a Maurice Farman Biplane at Military School, Ruislip on 29 July 1916. He was posted back to France where he was shot down and taken prisoner. Further details appeared in the Express & Star on 19 Apr 1917:

About a fortnight ago Flying Lieutenant Howard R. Davies, formerly employed at Sunbeamland, Wolverhampton, was at the works, and among his experiences he told how while flying at the front the controls of his machine were shot out of his hand, but he managed to spiral down and drop in No Man’s Land. He got back to the British lines.

Information was received by telegram on Wednesday that Lieutenant Davies has been missing since the 14th inst.

Express & Star, 19 Apr 1917

Express & Star, 19 Apr 1917

This article also talked of his many triumphs on the moto cycling circuit prior to the war, including winning a gold medal in a trial from Birmingham to York and back.

He returned to Wolverhampton after the war and got a job with Aston Motor Accessories, before starting to ride for A.J.S. He joined the A.J.S. racing team for the 1920 Isle of Man Junior and Senior T.T. races, but had to retire early due to mechanical problems. However, in the same year he won a gold medal on an AJS machine in the Scottish six day trial, and another in the A.C.U. trial around Darlington, along with other speed events. Amongst the other events of 1921, on 24 May, Howard also broke four world records at Brooklands. Later he set up his own motorcycle company. He died in 1973 from cancer. His wife Maisie died two days later, and they had a joint funeral at the Robin Hood Crematorium in Solihull.